I’ve been debating on whether or not to share this post for the past couple of weeks. First off, that I have seen first-hand the mental health issues and side effects social media can create in the real world. I’ve been lucky to have never experienced cyber-bullying or any other extreme side effects from social media. With this being said, I understand and fully support those who see social media as a toxic space, as that normally stems from a negative experience.
However, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I am a huge advocate for the good social media can do. I have met and become friends with some of the most inspiring, empowering, and all-around badass people through the app. I’ve cried about how much I love the relationships I’ve built the social media more than once. It also allows me a space to create content that I’ve put time and effort into for a few thousand people in hopes that it will somehow inspire them. I am incredibly grateful and in love with how social media has shaped my life so far.
But! Forewarning: Olivia is about to be as contradictory as she always is.
I was planning to post everyday on Instagram this summer. I wanted to get my engagement higher, connect with more of you, and create content daily. However, the past week has been the first week all summer that I have consistently posted, and it hasn’t even been an everyday thing.
In fact, in June, I deviated so far off my summer plan that I deleted Instagram from my phone and didn’t post for an entire week.
Nothing crazy, right? For me, it was.
I’ve taken intentional Instagram breaks like this before, but I’ve never outright DELETED the app from my phone. I’m always on it and checking up on other people’s latest posts, even when I, myself, am not posting. At this point, Instagram is one of the sole reasons I’m on my phone 3 hours a day (embarassing and true, but I’m working to reduce my screen time!) So why did I do it? Why did I delete Instagram off my phone and not go on it for an entire week?
I’ll give you the short answer: Guilt.
Throughout June, I was working as a camp counselor 7-8 hours a day, Monday-Friday (Read about it HERE). I would come absolutely exhausted and extremely unmotivated to do anything else in the afternoon. Work does that to you, especially working in the beginning stages, and I know that now. But I felt guilty… so incredibly guilty.
I couldn’t understand my lack of drive to write blog posts, post on Instagram, read. I couldn’t understand my desire to just watch Netflix or chill with friends. I didn’t feel productive and I hated it. I felt like I was in a slump except I had no reason to be in one, and this had a lot to do with my social media consumption.
I would sit there, scrolling through Instagram, wasting time watching other people be productive. This began to take a toll. I watched as others grinded to shoot, produce content, and work on their passion projects. I watched as others with work hours like mine completed everything on their to-do list and never seemed to slow down for a break. I’ve contributed to this productivity craze before. Heck, I’ve even done productive days-in-my-life on my story where I’ve talked about how seeing other people be productive helped me to be that way too. For some reason, all the behind-the-scenes and to-do list shares were having the opposite effect on me in June.
I just wanted to pull out my hair and scream, “WHERE DID MY PRODUCTIVITY GO??”
It wasn’t until I was on the phone with Callan, my co-director of Faces of Feminism, that I realized what was happening. I mentioned to her how I was seeing all these other people be easily productive on Instagram and how I didn’t understand why I was feeling so unmotivated. She told me something along the lines of: “You are being productive, you’re working almost everyday.” That line made me sit back and think for a minute. She was right. My productivity wasn’t gone, it was just refocused in a place it’s never had to be focused before.
Around the time I had this realization, I also realized that Instagram was what was really making me feel guilty about not being productive content-wise. It was becoming toxic quick, which is something I’ve never felt in regards to social media. I came to the conclusion that I needed a break. A full-stop break. I reluctantly pressed delete on the app that night.
Deleting Instagram off my phone helped immensely. The pressure to create and post content dissipated and I let myself simply rest after work. I felt less guilt and was able to focus on taking my time to create my “I Dressed Like Characters from my Favorite Movies for a Week” blog post.
Although I gladly returned Instagram to my phone after a week was up, I now see social media with changed eyes. I have a deeper understanding about the toxicity it can create as well as the importance of taking intentional time for yourself. I’ll leave you with this:
No app is worth your guilt. No app is worth your stress. No app is worth your mental health.